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Charmaine Wheatley


Charmaine Wheatley spent much of her 2012 residency in the historic courtyard with her watercolor kit capturing “moments”: the hanging nasturtiums, the works of art, and the shadows and atmosphere. While in the Long Gallery, Wheatley discovered a small ivory carving of the Mother and Child from the workshop of Jean I Limousin (ca. 1561-1610) which she painted and renamed “spaghetti-arm Jesus.” In the Yellow Room, she examined works by Whistler, hand-written music programs, and a collection of caricature postcards. She also spent time in the textile conservation lab sketching and painting garments and shoes. Wheatley made several trips to the Archives where she looked at Gardner’s guest books, watercolor and sketchbooks from 1869 to 1870, photographs, and a seal that she used for her correspondence. Wheatley also read letters written to Gardner by John Singer Sargent and Matthew Prichard.

In September 2015, she returned to the Museum for her exhibition Charmaine Wheatley: Souvenirs, mostly drawings and watercolors on paper, which captured her perspective on the life, language, and the history of the Museum. For the exhibit, Wheatley created a special Artist’s Edition (1/300) and five artist’s proofs in a small tin box filled with reproductions of her watercolor drawings and notes. Between September 2015 and April 2016, Wheatley returned two times and drew portraits of more than one hundred sitters while talking with them in the Living Room.

Charmaine Wheatley (b. 1968 Canada) is a performance artist who uses drawing and watercolors to create stories, often housing the results in pocket-sized metal boxes. She has published three books: Beau Fleuve: The Heart of North America, 30% of Buffalo, and Brett's Ball. Wheatley's latest book is a full-color, 48-page comic with rubber-stamped details. Her drawings have appeared in publications such as Border Crossings, FUKT, and C Magazine.

Wheatley has performed at the Mills Gallery, Boston, and has exhibited at Buffalo Arts Studio Galleries I & II, Buffalo, New York ; HQ Gallery, Brooklyn ; the Carnegie Art Center in Buffalo; AKA Gallery in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan ; Gallery 111, Winnipeg, Manitoba;, Amsterdam; and throughout Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Between 2002 and 2005, Wheatley collaborated with DJ/sound artist Taketo Shimada on performance projects based on “Charmaine,” a work written and composed in the 1920s. The work involved printed matter, sound, and functional sculptures, and was exhibited in Toronto, and at the WhiteBox Gallery, SubTONIC, the Emily Harvey Gallery, 725 Washington Street, the Knitting Factory, and New York University, all in New York.

Since graduating from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1995, Charmaine Wheatley has received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, and has been an Artist- in-Residence at Pace University, New York ; the Seven Below Arts Initiative, Vermont ; and Confederation Centre for the Arts/Parks Canada on Prince Edward Island . Her work is in international art and library collections, including The Museum of Modern Art, New York. For several years, Wheatley based her practice of performance, sculpture, painting, drawing and writing in Newfoundland, Canada, supported by an award from the Canada Council for the Arts.

In August 2014 she created a performance, What is The Role Of Women?, which involved a large taxidermy sculpture, costumes, and printed matter. She is currently an Artist-in-Residence at the School of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Rochester where she is focusing on lessening the social stigmas around mental illness and HIV.

Charmaine Wheatley, Wallys, 2012, watercolor paper with watercolor inks, gouache and gel pens, 134mm x 115mm
Charmaine Wheatley, Wallys, 2012, watercolor paper with watercolor inks, gouache and gel pens, 134mm x 115mm